On Thursday, Joyce Manchester, a chief analyst with the Congressional budget Office, told a House subcommittee that the number of people seeking Disability Insurance (DI) benefits is expected to continue rising, and she said the Affordable Care Act “is likely to influence application rates” although it’s “difficult to predict” what the impact will be.
“Looking ahead, the Affordable Care Act is likely to influence application rates for the DI program, but whether it will result in more or fewer beneficiaries is difficult to predict,” Manchester told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.
She explained that people getting disability benefits receive health coverage under Medicare, regardless of their age, but only after a 24-month waiting period.
Applications for disability insurance could increase under Obamacare, as people gain immediate access to subsidized health insurance through state exchanges, with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions. In that case, they could easily leave their employer-provided insurance and wait two years for Medicare benefits to kick in under the disability program.
“Those considerations will tend to increase applications to the DI program,” Manchester said.